Cineworld closing: Anxious wait for news over Whiteley and Chichester - will they be closing?

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News about the future of Cineworld at both Whiteley and Chichester is anxiously awaited following national reports the chain is looking to close a quarter of its cinemas.

The cinema chain currently operates about 100 locations nationwide - including at Whiteley Shopping Centre and Chichester Gate - and is expected to begin closures as part of a formal restructuring plan according to national reports.

Cineworld in WhiteleyCineworld in Whiteley
Cineworld in Whiteley | Google Streetview

According to Sky News, the group, which went private last year, will also aim to renegotiate rents for approximately 50 other cinemas, while about 25 sites will remain unaffected by these changes.

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Cineworld, which also owns the Picturehouse chain, is among several cinema companies impacted by the rise of streaming services, delays in film releases due to strikes among actors and writers, and increased living costs for consumers.

Sky reported that the restructuring proposals were expected to be formally outlined to creditors including landlords in the coming weeks. It is understood that financial services firm AlixPartners is acting as an adviser during the process.

Cineworld in ChichesterCineworld in Chichester
Cineworld in Chichester

Cineworld was founded in 1995 in Stevenage. It began with the opening of its first cinema in that location and has since grown to become the world's second-largest cinema chain (after AMC Theatres), with 9,139 screens across 747 sites in 10 countries. In 2012, it acquired the Picturehouse chain, which allowed it to diversify its offerings and appeal to a broader demographic.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Cineworld and other chains were facing challenges from the growth of streaming services., with the availability of high-quality content on streaming platforms reducing the demand for traditional cinema attendance, especially for less blockbuster-oriented films.

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And in light of recent volatile rates of inflation and interest, operating costs such as rent for cinema locations, maintenance and staffing continue to be significant expenses for Cineworld.

At the time of writing, Cineworld has not publicly commented on reports of its plans to close 25% of its UK cinemas. National World, The News’ parent company, has reached out to Cineworld for comment and will update this article with any additional information as it becomes available.

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